Restoration on Mimbres River expected to help threatened chub
The Mimbres River is the only place in the country the threatened Chihuahua chub calls home, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish biologists are working to make sure they’ll always feel that way.
Department personnel recently completed almost $500,000 worth of habitat restoration to nearly a mile of river owned by the State Game Commission and managed by the department near the Village of Mimbres, about 25 miles east of Silver City.
“The habitat restoration will also benefit the Rio Grande sucker and the threatened Chiricahua leopard frog that reside in the Mimbres River,” said Mike Ruhl, the department’s native fish program manager.
In June, contractors carved out deeper pools, added numerous rock and wood in-stream structures and improved adjoining wetlands to make the department’s property more habitable for the native fish and amphibians.
Ruhl said the department bought the property in 1988 for the purpose of someday restoring the habitat to benefit the chub.
That work began in earnest after the devastating Silver Fire of 2013. Flooding following the fire wiped out most native and non-native fish in the river and destroyed much of their habitat.
With restoration complete, the river was stocked with 1,000 native chubs raised and held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center in Dexter.
A colony of self-sustaining chubs also lives nearby on Nature Conservancy property in spring fed pools that could help repopulate the department’s stretch of the river.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program will reimburse the department up to 65 percent of the cost of the project, with the remaining costs covered by the department.
Biologists hope to continue working with neighboring property owners to help further restore fish and wildlife habitat in the area.
For more information about the department’s native fish programs, please visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us.